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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

JENNIFER GOOD


OPINION

"Holy no-future, Batman"

Remember when we were eight years old and couldn't wait to hit double digits? Then when you finally did, getting your driver's license seemed light years away, but you literally ached for the day to come?


NEWS

Construction to close roads on North Campus

As renovations continue in preparation for UB 2020, people traveling through North Campus will have to deal with additional road closings as part of the overall facelift. From April 15 through August 15, construction is scheduled for the building of the new Audubon roundabout. Between these dates, the current Audubon Parkway between Hamilton Road and Frontier Road, as well as Lee Road between the Jarvis B Lot entrance and Audubon Parkway, will be closed to through traffic. According to Bruce Buerger, the manager of Capital Project Support, the leader of this construction project, the new roundabout should ultimately improve pedestrian crossing safety. "Right now, there is no slowing down of traffic [in the area where the roundabout will be built] and you have to stop whenever there is a pedestrian," Buerger said. "[The roundabout] will make improvements for traffic and pedestrians." A walkway will be opened throughout the duration of the construction for pedestrian use. This walkway will go along Lee Road, between Ellicott Complex and the Academic Spine. Buerger predicts that there may be some impact on the flow of traffic during times such as graduation and when students are moving out of the residence halls. Periodic changes and additional detours may also occur in these zones during the set dates. E-mail: news@ubspectrum.com


The Spectrum
NEWS

Student aid bill signed into law

In light of the monetary devastations caused by the recent SUNY budget cuts, the Senate hopes to bridge the financial gap for many college students in passing the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act on Tuesday. With the passage of this act, $68 billion will be redirected from private loan companies back to those students who are in need of financial aid, making this the largest federal contribution to college affordability in U.S. history. Rep Louise Slaughter, D-NY, held a key role in this legislation as chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, being that it is the last stop for key legislation before the act goes to the floor of the house, according to a press release. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, thanks to a legislative device called reconciliation, is being combined as part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 that was passed last week. "The student aid reforms in this bill have been overshadowed by health care reform, but are important in their own right," Slaughter said. "This marks a new era for students across Western New York and reaffirms our commitment to higher education. It also guarantees that our future workforce is well educated." This student loan act included in the new health care bill intends to make considerable improvements to the federal student loan program. "We're going to cut out the middleman, giving an extra $68 billion directly to the students who need it most. We're using that money to expand Pell Grants and loan forgiveness for public service, and to make sure that payments are affordable for borrowers," Slaughter said. According to a press release and the Congressional Budget Office, by completely cutting out private banks that are currently making a profit from the federal loan system, the SAFRA will save $68 billion, allowing that money to be reinvested to the federal aid system. Additionally, Pell Grants will gain an investment of $40 billion, helping to cover the increased demand for these grants that occurred during the recession. These grant amounts will be indexed to inflation. In accordance with the SAFRA, making payments on student loans will also become significantly more affordable for new borrowers and public servants, including nurses, those in military services, and teachers. New borrowers who remain in good financial standing throughout their entire loan process will have their remaining balance forgiven after 20 years. These new borrowers will also be able to max the payments they make at 10 percent of their discretionary income. The loan forgiveness entitled to public servants includes eligibility for debt forgiveness after 10 years. This legislation will invest billions of dollars into community colleges, Historical Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions. Furthermore, as promised by Obama's campaign and presidential agenda, the SAFRA will make the completion of FAFSA forms much simpler, hopefully encouraging an increase in the number of aid applications filed. In general, thousands of college students in Western New York will see substantial perks in the passing of the SAFRA, according to Slaughter. E-mail: news@ubspectrum.com


OPINION

Memory

I can smile at the old days. Really, I can. They weren't always so perfect, nor are they all clear in my head anymore, but looking at where I am in life today, I think I came out okay. I was restricted from a lot of simple things growing up, causing my mother and I to butt heads often. She liked to control, and control she did. I had a better chance at winning the lottery than getting the O.K. for a sleepover, and trying to sneak sugar into my diet was harder than getting a bomb past White House security. Think I'm exaggerating? Have you ever had your mother show up at lunchtime in sixth grade to catch and yell at you in front of your entire class for buying ice cream instead of milk? I have. Still, though, for the most part I was happy. I danced, played soccer, climbed trees … I was pretty average, I guess. Every Tuesday my mom would go to golf league and my big sister and I would have adventures with good old dad. On Thursdays, it was dad's golf night and the girls would go out to dinner together. Every other weeknight, my sister and I had our extracurricular activities. Cute little suburban family, right? Well, let's just say sometimes there's more than meets the eye. I was blessed and while I wasn't spoiled, for the most part I always had what I needed materialistically and there was always (healthy) food in my refrigerator. Bud Light was also always in my refrigerator. As I got older, my dad started to go out most weeknights and my mother, who had her own in-home graphic designing business, began spending more and more time locked in her office and shutting out her former best friends. It never really fazed me, though. I didn't know any differently and deemed it totally normal. By high school, this pattern had become set in stone and my parents never spoke, only yelled. My mom's controlling only got worse, as did our fighting. I never understood it and my sister avoided it altogether, leaving me feeling much less than unconditionally loved. It caused some traumatizing situations that I still, to this day, cannot forgive my mother for. It wasn't until my freshman year of college, during a phone call with my sister, that my eyes were opened. My mom and I weren't speaking due to another unreasonable explosion that I didn't understand the reason for, and while venting, my sister stopped me and blurted out words I'll never forget. "You know mom's an alcoholic, right?" she said. It caught me off guard, but it was like a light bulb. How could I have not realized this? Of course she was. And suddenly a weight was lifted from me. I no longer thought so many things were my fault. Since then, I can't say things have really gotten better with my mother's disease. This past summer she was diagnosed with cancer, which also caused her some sort of mental disorder that she refuses to acknowledge. She's meaner and crazier than ever, randomly calling the police on her own family with made-up scenarios, causing scenes in public and self-destroying to disturbing levels. An addict cannot recover until he or she is ready. My mother is not ready and I'm afraid she won't be around long enough to get to that point. It's horrifying to have to stop loving your mother, but it is simply unhealthy to have anyone like her in my life. I'm trying to start my life and she's only holding me back. She has blatantly chosen alcohol over being in my family's life. She will not see me graduate, she will not be at my wedding and she will not meet her grandchildren. That is her choice. It stings me to hear my friends talk about all the adoring things their mothers do for and with them. I tear up watching the loving bonds they have, knowing that I have never and will never have that with my own mother. I guess you could call it jealousy, but I do try and see the good in my situation. I'm learning so many things from it that I think most people will, sadly, never understand. I have grown an emotional strength that I feel not many people can possess without going through situations similar to mine. Sympathy is the last thing I want. I want people to relate and realize these things are not the end of the world. As I always say, every single one of us has his or her issue. It's so very important to consider that every day whenever you start to judge someone else. E-mail: jennifer.good@ubspectrum.com


News

New law forces Puerto Rican citizens to renew birth certificates

Ivanlli Scolari, a junior history and sociology major and native of Puerto Rico, was blindsided and confused when he unintentionally stumbled upon the news that his identity would soon be invalid. This past December, the Puerto Rican government passed a law stating that all birth certificates would be void and must be renewed as of July 1. With 40 percent of all identity frauds in the U.S. stemming from stolen birth certificates in Puerto Rico, the USA approached the commonwealth requesting that something be done. This law will create more secure documents and prohibit third parties from keeping and hiding away birth certificates, so there will no longer be mass piles of birth certificates stolen for identity theft, according to Kenneth McClintock-Hernandez, Puerto Rico's secretary of state. McClintock-Hernandez explained the main reasons why this law was so vital, especially for Puerto Rico. "Number one, most of the undocumented people who are trying to seek documents of something that they are not happen to be Spanish people … almost all birth certificates in Puerto Rico have Spanish names," McClintock-Hernandez said. "Secondly, [all people] in Puerto Rico are automatically U.S. citizens, making these documents more valuable to those trying to cross borders." In addition, McClintock-Hernandez states that the role of the birth certificate is very important in the day-to-day life of Puerto Ricans. "There has been a tradition in Puerto Rico for at least half a century where people must produce a birth certificate to every school, summer camp, ballet class or little league team they enroll in throughout their lives. This puts at least 10 to 20 copies of every person's [birth certificate] out there, so you have tens of thousands of birth certificates that are misfiled and then you have many schools that are being broken into where the records are then taken away and sold on the black market for $5,000 to $10,000 each." The problem that has become apparent throughout the beginning phases of this new law seem to be in the communication of it to the estimated 1.5 million people born in Puerto Rico and living on the mainland. When the initial law was created in December, the first thing the Puerto Rican government did was give a press conference with many reporters. Unfortunately, the press that was expected to get the word out did not publicize the issue as thoroughly as the government had hoped, according to McClintock-Hernandez. "I just randomly came across something on AOL saying something about birth certificates," Scolari said. "You know how many people are going to be affected? And people don't even know about it … especially here at UB. There are a lot of people from the Bronx that are from Puerto Rico that don't even know about it. [The Puerto Rican government] made a decision like that and nobody is aware of it? It's just stupid." Even clubs at UB directed toward Latin Americans that have a number of Puerto Rican members in them, such as the Latin American Student Association, are unaware of the new regulations. "I'm actually disappointed in not knowing," said Cesar Guerra, the publications director for LASA. "I think that this is a major move that is happening and to make this an easier process, I think we needed to have more time to better prepare. [Being uninformed until the last minute] puts people in a panic state where people start worrying about their identity being misfiled or stolen due to crimes that are happening in the black market." McClintock-Hernandez claimed that starting April 1, an outreach program will begin to promote these changes more to the media to better inform and prevent chaos in July. He also confirmed that the law does not change the price or exempt people from paying the $5 charge of getting a new birth certificate, and that it will still take approximately one week to receive the certificate after submitting the request for one. "I think that if [the Puerto Rican government is] doing this now, even without giving it enough time to tell us, if they're taking action over there to fix this problem or avoid any other problems from happening, then it should be done even if it causes inconvenience," Guerra said. E-mail: news@ubspectrum.com


News

Travel problems delay students

As spring breakers venture back from Panama City, Cancun or even the comfort of their own living rooms, the thought of having to go through the hassle of taking flights back to classes and jobs may seem uninviting.


The Spectrum
NEWS

It's all good

In the past two weeks, I received a ticket for using my cell phone while driving, which caused me to miss a quiz.


NEWS

New CARD Act restricts to protect

The days of being pressured to open a credit card through incentives of free T-shirts or foot-long subs are now over. Last spring, President Obama signed into law the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act), which went into effect on Monday. This new legislation has established a renovated set of rules for credit card companies to follow, restricting those under the age of 21 from certain terms of credit card usage. 'This CARD Act … is a key part of a number of administration initiatives to increase the protection of consumers, particularly in financial markets and particularly in areas where credit is involved,' said Jared Bernstein, senior economic adviser to the vice president, during a conference call. 'For too long, credit card companies have had free rein to employ misleading and unfair practices that hit consumers with unreasonable costs, often in ways that were shady and very difficult for people to sort out, and they've had a specific, tough impact, in most cases, on younger Americans.' According to Bernstein, under the CARD Act, those under 21 years of age will now need to demonstrate their ability to make timely and full payments or will need a co-signer in order to open an account. Those younger than 21 who want to increase their credit limit will need an agreement in writing from their co-signer. The legislation additionally creates extra responsibility on establishments that use their facilities to promote credit cards to a younger demographic. The CARD Act now requires that issuers and institutions disclose all of their agreements regarding marketing or credit card contracts with students. When universities allow credit card companies to solicit students on campus, they receive a portion of the company's proceeds. In the past, schools were not required to release the dollar amount they were given as a result of this practice, but under this new law, both parties are to give full disclosure of their earnings as well as the details of their promotional agreements. Additionally, credit card companies are no longer allowed to provide free gifts in exchange for signing up for a card on or near campuses. 'There are two reasons why it's part particularly unfortunate when young people get in over their heads with credit cards. First of all, it's tougher to get your career started on a good foot if you're carrying a large pressing debt burden, but secondly, you can do considerable damage to your credit score and that hurts you moving forward as you begin your career and your life and want to make the kinds of investments that families make as they get older. So we think it is particularly important to make sure these consumer protections reach younger people,' Bernstein said. 'Again, the idea here is to help make sure that responsible practices dominate, especially with younger people, because the costs of getting this wrong are really high.' The detailed list of new regulations included in the CARD Act is in place to create consumer protection for the younger generation and provide a sort of orientation into the world of credit card usage. E-mail: news@ubspectrum.com


NEWS

Suspects identified in credit card scandal

New but limited information has been released in the ongoing investigation regarding two UB students who stole credit card information with the help of local businesses. Police have released the names of the two male suspects accused of using a skimming device to obtain credit card information and then buy various items. Donlet O. McCalla, a senior psychology major, and Theron J. Harris, an undergraduate student in the School of Management, are the two UB students facing charges. According to Tracy Gast, special agent in charge of Buffalo's Secret Service office, there really hasn't been much new information since the charges were filed, aside from the release of their names. 'Because it is still an ongoing investigation, we have to be careful what we release,' Gast said. McCalla is the former health chair of UB's chapter of NAACP, which was derecognized on Jan. 31 for breaking SA club regulations regarding proper money handling. No correlations of the two incidents have currently been made. McCalla and Harris could not be reached for statements. SA President Ernesto Alvarado was aware of the allegations against the two UB students, but was shocked to learn of McCalla's involvement due to his previous position in the NAACP. 'We're obviously deeply disappointed in his actions. We don't stand for anything like that,' Alvarado said. 'They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.' E-mail: news@ubspectrum.com


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